Food cravings can be powerful and persistent, testing your determination and tempting you to abandon your diet or healthy eating plan. Most cravings involve unhealthy foods, particularly those laden with sugar, salt and fat, all of which can sabotage your weight-loss efforts. Trying to ignore or fight food cravings can often make the craving worse. Fortunately, there are several strategies that can help to reduce, and even eliminate, food cravings.
Emotional Freedom Technique
The Emotional Freedom Technique, known as EFT, involves tapping specific acupressure points while repeating affirmations. You can use this technique to treat a range of emotional problems, many of which can be the cause of overeating or an otherwise unhealthy relationship with food. While EFT practitioners can be useful for treating persistent problems, large numbers of people can relieve food cravings simply by using the technique at home. There are thousands of instructional videos and self-help articles online for those wishing to try EFT.
Studies published in the Journal of ISRN Psychiatry (2013) found EFT promoted “significant improvements” in food cravings, resulting in weight loss and an overall reduction in symptoms of depression. This emerging therapy is very effective in helping patients manage their own mental wellbeing and uproot unhealthy eating behaviors.
Visualization is a powerful tool that requires nothing more than your imagination. You can use it as a form of aversion therapy, to decrease your desire for certain foods. For example, if you are craving potato chips, you could visualize a glass of fat and salt to remind you of what you are putting into your body. You can also adopt this technique to create positive images, such as a slimmer figure or enjoying healthy foods, providing motivation to resist the food you crave. Practicing visualizations regularly will yield the best results.
The Journal of the Frontiers of Psychiatry (2014) found that using different senses while visualizing reduces food cravings and promotes healthier choices. Try to include the taste, smell, feel, sight and even the sound of the foods you want to eat. Conversely, thinking about unhealthy foods — including seeing advertisements or smelling food being prepared — increases food cravings; beware of what gets into your nose and thoughts!
Food cravings are frequently the result of stress, depression, anxiety or low mood associated with hormone fluctuations or simply being tired. Learning to relax and wind down in healthier ways, rather than using food to alter your mood, is a useful skill that can eliminate cravings. Meditation, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, are all excellent ways to relax. Just 20 minutes of relaxation are enough to reduce food cravings and appetite.
Many people eat sweet, salty or fatty foods out of habit or because they are bored. Practicing mindfulness develops your ability to recognize why you are eating, which enables you to identify and adjust unhealthy eating patterns. Mindfulness encompasses a variety of disciplines, such as watching the breath and mindful eating, which you can learn in a group setting and practice alone. Specifically, by simply accepting and ignoring thoughts, and not identifying with them (dis-identification), you can dramatically reduce your food cravings. There is a wealth of information and thousands of instructional videos online providing advice for those wanting to learn mindfulness.
Overcome Rather than Overwhelm
Food cravings are overwhelming at times, but you can overcome them with practice and patience. Whichever method you use, it is vital to utilize the technique regularly, to increase its effectiveness. Taking the time to develop coping strategies also gives you a sense of control over food, which is particularly important for maintaining steady weight-loss and making long-term changes to your diet.References